Towson polls work a bit of overtime to cap a busy election day

A busy day of general election voting in Baltimore County actually closed with extra innings.

In the end, the last of the 2,038 ballots at Rodgers Forge Elementary were cast just after 8:15 p.m.

The precinct's final voters made it inside the building just before the doors were locked 15 minutes earlier — at exactly 8 p.m., when polls were slated to close.

But in a day of long lines and heightened voter interest, all those who had gotten in line by the deadline were allowed to enter and cast their ballots.

"I wasn't worried," said Carolyn Carlino, 40, the second-to-last person in line at Rodgers Forge.

She didn't plan it this way, but the only time she could find to vote was late in the evening — a time she hoped the lines would be dwindling.

"It's working out for me," she said with a smile. "My husband waited for an hour."

Voting across Maryland — and reflected in the Towson area — came in a brisk pace all day Tuesday, as residents turned out to cast their votes for president, Congress and a host of ballot questions and bond measures.

In the morning, lines grew quickly at Towson's polling places.

"It hasn't let up since we opened the doors," said Francis MacDougall, an election judge at Dumbarton Middle School.

MacDougall was supervising voting near the Dumbarton gym, which is serving as a temporary polling place for Stoneleigh residents while Stoneleigh Elementary is under a construction project.

Gina Young, 33, said she waited with her other displaced Stoneleigh voters at the Dumbarton gym for more than 90 minutes, but she figured the line would be worse in the evening.

Both MacDougall and Ed Matricardi, his contemporary at Towson High School — the other temporary voting location for Stoneleigh residents — reported about that just a handful of people tried to vote at the wrong location, but no more than in previous years.

Matricardi said wait times reached an hour at the high school earlier this morning, though it was down to 15 minutes around 11 a.m.

Chief Judge Pat Jakelski, who was overseeing polling for voters who normally vote at Towson High, reported no problems with voting machines, but said turnout was heavier than usual.

Brenda Bechdel, 48, commiserated with neighbors who were waiting in the growing late-morning line, but said she waited just 15 to 20 minutes to cast her ballot.

"We've never seen lines like this," she said. "And it's not that they're not being efficient. I just think more people care this year."

Colin Stine, 57 of Idlewylde, let out a sigh of relief after casting his ballot at Dumbarton.

Despite the lines, he said he votes every election and had strong feelings about several of the candidates.

"This is a huge turnout," Stine said. "The line was this long at 7 o'clock, and it's still going."

Meanwhile, voters leaving Ridge Ruxton School around 12:30 said they waited around 40 minutes. Chief Judge Bonita Pinkney said those were among the location's longest waits of the day.

"Turnout has been great," Pinkney said. "We're getting over 100 voters per hour."

By 2 p.m. at Pleasant Plains Elementary, Chief Judge Jacques Amos said more than half of the precinct's 900 voters had already cast ballots, a number that didn't include those who voted early.

With early voters added into the equation, Amos estimated the precinct had seen between 60 to 70 percent turnout.

"We aren't even at the dinner rush," he said in the mid-afternoon. "We're probably going to have a record turnout ... and it's the ballot questions that are driving this."

This story has been updated.



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